Florida health officials are warning beachgoers of a flesh-eating bacteria in Gulf waters. Vibria vulnificus is a couson of cholera, and thrives in warm saltwater. It can invade cuts and scrapes, and cause skin breakdown and ulceration. The disease can also be ingested by eating  contaminated shellfish, such as clams or oysters.

The Center for Disease Control advises Floridians not to go into the saltwater if they have any open wounds, cuts, or scrapes. The CDC also recommends that shellfish be cooked thoroughly before eating, to avoid contamination.

At least 11 Floridians have contracted Vibrio vulnificus so far this year and two have died--one right here in Sarasota-- according to the most recent state data. Most people who contract a Vibrio vulnificus infection recover with the help of antibiotics, but severe skin infections may require surgery and amputation, according to the CDC. People with weakened immune systems are also at risk for blood infections, which are fatal about 50 percent of the time, the CDC notes.

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